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by Mark Zalewski
February 15, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Kristoff wins Tour of Oman opener; US judge denies Armstrong request, federal whistleblower case headed to jury trial; Tramadol: Why Some Athletes and Experts Want It Banned; Boonen crashes in Oman, okay to start second stage; Chris Hoy: Cycling needs a shake up; Three Days De Panne-Koksijde signs 10 year agreement with events company Golazo; Gent-Wevelgem announces final teams; Merckx: Tour of Qatar unlikely for 2018; Hennie Kuiper searching for infamous photographer; Wout van Aert tops prize money list; Crash in amateur race after elbows thrown; Behind the scenes making a carbon frame; Film: To The Night.
A U.S. federal judge has denied a motion filed by Lance Armstrong’s legal team seeking to negate any damages suffered by former team sponsor U.S. Postal Service, meaning the False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit may now proceed to a jury trial. The federal whistleblower lawsuit, first filed by former USPS teammate Floyd Landis in 2010 and joined by the U.S. government, on behalf of the USPS after Armstrong’s doping admission in 2013, seeks damages on its $32.3 million sponsorship of the team between 2000 and 2004. Armstrong and former team management Tailwind Sports could be liable for nearly $100 million.
The government alleges that Armstrong and Tailwind Sports defrauded the USPS through active concealment of Armstrong’s PED use, constituting an “implied false certification that Armstrong was in compliance with the anti-doping provisions of the sponsorship agreements.”
While the total cost of the Postal Service sponsorship from 1995 to 2004 was over $42 million, the ruling noted that the government’s claims are based on invoices submitted within the FCA’s statute of limitations. Armstrong’s attorneys have long argued that the U.S. Postal Service suffered no damages and received more in value from the sponsorship than the $32.3 million it paid, based on media impressions during his Tour de France reign. However the government presented an expert declaration indicating that there were some 1.5 billion negative media impressions “connecting Mr. Armstrong’s doping scandal to the USPS” between 2010 and 2014.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper denied Armstrong’s request to dismiss the case with a summary judgment.
“Because the government has offered evidence that Armstrong withheld information about the team’s doping and use of (performance-enhancing drugs) and that the anti-doping provisions of the sponsorship agreements were material to USPS’s decision to continue the sponsorship and make payments under the agreements, the Court must deny Armstrong’s motion for summary judgment on this issue,” Cooper wrote. Saying that both sides “missed the mark” in terms of damages, Cooper said the argument must be decided by a jury at trial.
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